Of all U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagan of the Republican Party is by far the most hated in Russia. And for good reason: His administration defeated the Soviet Union and won the Cold War.
Of all of the United States’ adversaries, Russia — not China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, ISIS or Al Qaeda — is its greatest threat. That is as true in 2023 as it was in 1953 and 1983.
For decades, Washington invested trillions of dollars in defense spending to deter Russia. Trillions – with 12 zeros. If stacked in 1$ bills, 1 trillion dollars would stretch as far as 67,866 miles, or 2.72 times around the Earth’s equator. That is a lot of money.
Aid to freedom-loving Ukraine is not deterring Russia, it is defeating it. It is revealing its logistics networks, destroying its military infrastructure, degrading its weapons systems, incapacitating its soldiers, and reducing the Russian military’s ability to wage war for years to come. This is being achieved at a fraction of the cost of deterrence, without a single American soldier being killed or wounded in battle.
Despite this bargain, pro-Russia Republicans have done their utmost to sabotage aid to pro-American Ukraine. For months, conspiracy theorists in Congress have fought tooth and nail to stop funding Kyiv. While a U.S. government shutdown was averted this weekend, aid to Ukraine was unfortunately left out of the temporary funding bill passed by the House and Senate.
Rest assured, Russian President Vladimir Putin is celebrating in the Kremlin. Imagine that: The biggest victory won by Moscow in recent months was not earned in blood by Russia’s army in the killing fields of Ukraine. It was delivered to the Kremlin by elected members of the U.S. Congress, from President Reagan’s party, for the whole world to witness.
This much is certain: Moscow is not backing down against Kyiv. To the contrary, Putin is all-in to win against Ukraine. Russia is convinced it will outlast the Free World. Above all, Moscow is betting that the Washington-led West will abandon Kyiv if the White House changes hands next year. And pro-Russia Republicans are unfortunately proving the Kremlin right.
To call playing into Putin’s hands in this manner “anti-American” is an understatement. It makes Americans less safe at home and abroad, Washington less reliable to its allies, and the world less amenable to democracy. Conversely, it also makes the United States less worthy of the burden of global leadership that falls squarely on its shoulders.
The only thing the free and democratic West’s adversaries respect, and fear, is American power. Responding with weakness in the face of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine is interpreted as fear in the eyes of America’s rivals. It is seen not as goodwill or diplomacy, but as appeasement.
Moscow succeeding in Ukraine would be disastrous for Washington. It would make a full-scale war between NATO and Russia almost unavoidable. It would also increase the likelihood of a U.S. conflict with China over Taiwan, and of a North Korean assault on South Korea. Avoiding these contingencies is in the national interest of the United States, and a Russian defeat in Ukraine is the best way of preventing all the above from happening.
To think that the Republican Party, which sealed the nail in the Soviet Union’s coffin and won the Cold War, is compromising America’s national interest and Washington’s global leadership in this manner is a colossal embarrassment for the whole world to behold. Reagan rolls in his grave over pro-Russia Republicans.
George Monastiriakos is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, and a Fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. You could read his published works at www.Monastiriakos.com.